Massimiliano Allegri has warned his Juventus players they cannot afford to lose ground on Serie A leaders Napoli by dropping points against Sassuolo.
The reigning Italian champions host inconsistent Sassuolo on Sunday after stringing six straight league wins together to cut Napoli’s lead to just one point.
But head coach Allegri is wary of a Sassuolo side who were bolstered in the January transfer window by the arrival of striker Khouma Babacar from Fiorentina.
Allegri told juventus.com: “We have to take all three points as there is still a long way to go.
“We cannot lose ground on Napoli, because everything will be decided in the last few rounds of the season, during which we will play three matches against rival clubs (Napoli, Inter Milan and Roma).
“So tomorrow we will have to win, attacking them right from the beginning.
“Sassuolo have good players, especially going forward, and physically they will be enriched by the arrival of Babacar.
“They have managed to draw with Roma and beat Inter recently.”
Allegri would like to see more from his 90 million euro striker Gonzalo Higuain, who has only contributed 10 goals in the league so far.
He said: “Higuain is in good shape and can still improve. Some time ago he was doing well, and that was good for everyone.”
The Tuscan tactician will run the rule over Federico Bernardeschi, who took a knock during Juve’s Coppa Italia victory over Atalanta in midweek, while Douglas Costa is unlikely to feature.
Paulo Dybala is some way off recovering from a hamstring injury but Allegri teased that the Argentinian forward might return against Tottenham in the Champions League later this month.
Defender Edoardo Goldaniga is suspended for 14th-placed Sassuolo, who have failed to win any of their last four matches after recording three straight wins that steered them clear of the relegation zone.
Boss Giuseppe Iachini said: “We are ready for the match. The numbers speak for themselves – Juve are a very strong team who have had a lot of success over the years. Allegri has stepped them up another gear.
“They are used to playing every three days, they have that experience and the physicality. We will need to play a perfect match against them.”